Five rough drafts for developing 24 million square feet—and why none of them will be built.
Principal: Gary Barnett
The Facts: Barnett is already famous for outbidding Bruce Ratner for Atlantic Yards (and losing) and for buying out Donald Trump’s development on Riverside South. Most of his other projects have been residential. Extell’s scheme, unique among the five, audaciously proposes to put the buildings on the ground flanking the yards and to carpet over the tracks with a park draped on a suspension bridge. Making up for all that green space: extra height and bulk. Stephen Holl’s design has received praise in architectural circles, with the Times’ Nicolai Ouroussoff calling it “the only one worth serious consideration.”
The Odds: Low. Rumored to be the least capitalized of the bunch and therefore a weak contender. Also has much less experience building at this scale.
Power Hire: Marc Shaw, Bloomberg’s first deputy mayor and former head of the MTA.
Principal: Ric Clark
The Facts: Clark and Brookfield don’t get nearly as much press as Vornado’s Steve Roth and Related’s Steve Ross, but they’ve been trying for years to build a new office tower on a site they own over the train tracks just west of the Farley Post Office. A national, publicly traded company, Brookfield knows its politics: It gives a lot of money to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee—and has the mayor’s girlfriend on its board.
The Odds: Dark horse. The plan, which has no fewer than seven major architectural firms attached, is drawing praise for good urbanism, including new streets and parks that people might actually use. But Brookfield decided to proceed without a big tenant, hoping to retain flexibility until the infrastructure is built. Not so good for winning the bid, but this smartly positions it to buy up individual pieces from the team that does.
Power Hire: Josh Sirefman, former head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
Principals: Jerry and Rob Speyer
Anchor: Morgan Stanley
The Facts: Already owners of Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building, and, most recently, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, father Jerry Speyer and son Rob want another showpiece. The presence of Rob, who together with his father assembled the $5.4 billion Stuyvesant-Cooper megadeal, at the project’s introduction suggests that Jerry is nudging his heir further into the spotlight. The firm describes its bid as a combination of Rockefeller Center and Berlin’s Sony Center, which is one of those redevelopment projects better suited to tourists than to Berliners.
The Odds: Modest. Morgan Stanley, the bid’s anchor tenant, is itching to move, but the prospect of a high-security financial office tower may prove less appealing to the MTA than that of a media corridor. The bulky, blocky buildings are unlikely to win over anyone on the aesthetics, though the town-green “forum” area is a nice touch.
Power Hire: Tony Mannarino, former No. 2 at the EDC.
Principals: Douglas Durst and Steve Roth
Anchor: Condé Nast
The Facts: Durst owns 8.3 million square feet in midtown, with a portfolio mostly on Third and Sixth Avenues in the Forties. Grandfather Joseph built the business, and father Seymour spent three decades gradually assembling the parcel that is now becoming One Bryant Park (financed by post-9/11 Liberty Bonds). Known for environmentally sound development, son Douglas includes far more than the “greenwashing” that most developers toss into projects to collect tax credits; the bid is packed with new technology for water recycling and co-generation. Durst has partnered with Vornado’s Steve Roth, who owns the lion’s share of the property around Penn Station (see following pages).
The Odds: Hard to say, but intriguing. Positioned well to grab at least a large piece of the pie. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and FxFowle, the bid has as anchor tenant Condé Nast, which, according to Si Newhouse, has, incredibly, already outgrown its 1999 Times Square tower. Even if one of the other plans (say, Related’s) is adopted, the Condé Nast building has a good chance of going up.
Power Hire: Jordan Barowitz, one of Bloomberg’s press handlers during the mayor’s first term.
THE RELATED COMPANIES
Principal: Steve Ross
Anchor: News Corp.
The Facts: Related owns over $10 billion in property even without Hudson Yards. Its biggest and most visible New York project is the Time Warner Center, but Related is all over town: from the Gwathmey tower at Astor Place to the former Bronx Terminal Market. And Related is known for partnering with more conservative name-brand architects, like David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
The Odds: The plan is the front-runner—though it will almost certainly be rejiggered to incorporate aspects of the other bids. With Kohn Pederson Fox as lead architect, its strength lies in having lined up News Corp. and established a financing partnership with Goldman Sachs as well as Ross’s chummy relationship with city planning czar Dan Doctoroff (they both once owned pieces of the Islanders).
Power Hire: Vishaan Chakrabarti, who was a wunderkind at SOM, then ran the Manhattan Office of City Planning during the rezoning of the West Side, and probably knows better than anyone how this redevelopment will work.
Renderings: From top, courtesy of Extell Development Company; courtesy of Brookfield Properties; courtesy of Tishman Speyer Properties; Dbox/courtesy of Related Companies; courtesy of Durst-Vornado